Saturday, February 21, 2015

We're Not in North Cuba Anymore!

Colorado is beautiful! We arrived when it was in the 50s with no snow, and we were able to make it to "The Garden of the Gods" without slipping off the rocks.

We visited "The Cave of the Winds" for a discovery tour, which was a little spooky and chilly.

Here's my son just outside the cave warming up in the sun.

We were in Colorado Springs for his hockey tournament, and it was cool to see him play where the Olympic team practices.

The view from the hotel balcony was amazing! Here it is on the first day...

...and this is another view from the balcony the following morning:

What a difference a day makes.

Since the snow was falling and sticking, we thought it'd be fun to travel up to Pike's Peak (as far as we could make it) on the Cog Railway, "the highest rack railway in the world as well as the highest railway in North America." Unfortunately, due to the weather and maintenance problems we made it to just below 12,000 feet before we had to turn around.

Here's my son on the mountain just below Inspiration Point. I like to call this pic, "Redrum," and if you've seen The Shining you'll know why.

One of our favorite days was when we spotted the deer on the Garden of the God's hiking trail.

They didn't have a care in the world and the snowy trees and mountains made it look like a scene from a Christmas movie. We stayed with them a while and more deer started coming down the mountain, crossing the street, about six or seven in total, and it was an amazing experience to watch them eat, run and play just a few feet in front of us.

Another highlight of our trip was the wolves feeding tour at Colorado's Wolf and Wildlife Center (click on the link to see my short video). I loved the "senior" arctic wolves. Our tour guide called this one a grumpy old man, but he was just hungry and adorable.

It was freezing but enjoyable. One of my favorite wolves was Na'Vi, named after the tribe in the Avatar film. He is also the nephew of the black wolf in the "Twilight" movie, which is why they refer to him as "Hollywood Boy." I bought his photo because I love the contrast of those intense yellow eyes and black fur and I also wanted to help support the center. I had no idea over 4,000 wolves had been hunted and killed in the US over the past few years. Heartbreaking.

I loved the end of the tour when we howled as a group and after a few seconds all 17 wolves howled back. It was like a chorus in the woods in the windy mountains of Colorado. My husky, Misty, would've loved to have been there but she and Riley were cozy-ing up at home in Miami, where it was getting cool (dipping into the 40s).

It was a wonderful trip and if my daughter had been with us, we would've stayed through the weekend, but honestly, I always love coming home to Miami...where you can speak any language and someone's bound to understand you and the espresso is always good. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

More Dali, Picasso, Gardens and Sunday Sketch

This is the beautiful staircase inside the Dali Museum. It seems to go up into the heavens...and also down into the pit. 

I loved the stories behind these paintings and wish I could remember them in detail.

This one was inspired by his brother who passed away nine months before Dali was born. His name had been Salvador Dali and his parents decided to name their second child Salvador as well and treat him as though he were their firstborn. This explains so much.

I was touched by this one, which is much more effective up close. It's of Dali's dad and I especially like the tiny father and son holding hands on the left-hand side of the painting.

Dali's "Girl With Curls" is another one of my favorites. I like how he combines realism and distortion; her body is sensual and extreme while the landscape looks real.

Here's a little Dali/Picasso inspired moment...

...and a little explanation about my sketch in the garden over coffee.

Here's more garden fun with Pablo.

We also managed to squeeze in a yoga class at the museum on Sunday.

...before heading to the Sunken Gardens for a picnic lunch. It was a magical place.

After this fun, two-day getaway, I decided I need to add more things to my bucket list and just do them...with family, friends, whoever wants to tag along. Are YOU in?

PS - Here's my Sunday sketch...working on Celia Cruz. ¡Azúcar!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dali, Picasso and Gardens

Above is the cast of characters from this weekend's shenanigans. The photo was taken at our first stop in St. Petersburg, a tapas restaurant around the corner from our hotel.

We walked to the Dali Museum a few blocks away and found a solitary shoe in the grass, which we contemplated on using as a bottle opener (since we had wine but no opener) and you know how you can open wine with a shoe now.

Up ahead we saw a dead cat floating in the water, no kidding and no pictures. We weren't sure where the Dali Museum was located at that point, but we figured it couldn't be far.

In the above photo you can actually see the museum up ahead on the left over the water. It was a nice walk from the hotel.

We were lucky to make it for the Picasso exhibit which is up through February 22; two great artists' work in one spot.

Here is one of my favorite paintings by Dali. When you squint, you can see a famous portrait.

By chance we met Artist and Curator, Craig Petersburg, in one of the education rooms who shared some interesting Dali stories with us. I wanted to know more about his wife (Dali's not Craig's), Gala, and her impact on the artist. Toward the end of his life, did she actually drug him and make him hallucinate? Did she forbid him to visit the castle he bought for her in Spain because she used it to entertain young lovers, like the lead singer from Jesus Christ Superstar? The conversation was an interesting and unexpected treat.

Here's a photo of Craig Petersburg's cane...the only one left of its kind. He added the jewels to it.

Here I am with Picasso's bull in the beautiful garden.

Here's another garden shot taken at Sunken Gardens, where we had a  nice picnic lunch the following day.

I will share more later, but first I have to write letters to vendors informing them that the ALF is officially closed and finish packing all the old files, which need to be stored for two years. Then I hope to work on my own portrait, not a selfie, but that of a famous Cuban singer.

Happy Thursday to YOU!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Road Trip

This little gem was given to me years ago by a fellow blogger and it's packed with great (and not so great) ideas.  I skimmed it yesterday in preparation for my weekend getaway with two friends and one I've yet to meet. Here's a page from the book...

We're heading to St. Petersburg, Florida, in a bit to visit the Salvador Dali museum and I was happy to hear there will be a Picasso exhibit there as well. I'll share more next week! Have a wonderful weekend, amiguitos! Make it surreal. ;) xo

Monday, January 26, 2015


This week's theme for Illustration Friday is PASSION so here's my contribution in RED HOT ink.

What are YOU passionate about?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Serendipity on Lincoln Road

I told him, "Meet me at Starbucks on Lincoln Road," and we made plans to be there at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday; HOWEVER, we didn't see each other until some time after 10.  While I was having a salted caramel latte and listening to live guitar music at an outdoor table at one coffee shop, he was hanging out at another. Apparently, there are two Starbucks on Lincoln Road these a phone call and two coffees later, he joined me at the one on the corner of Lincoln and Meridian.

We had just begun to catch up when out of nowhere I hear someone shout my name behind me. I turn around and it's my old friend, Hector, who I haven't seen in years and he also happens to be a former student of Mr. DeMott. I asked him how he knew it was me and he laughed and said something about my red hair. Yes, there's no camouflaging "Scarlet" (for those of you who've been with me a while).

Mr. D (or Eddie, as he prefers to be called these days) thought I had set up the mini reunion, but no, it was just good old-fashioned serendipity. He made us laugh with some wild stories and he also shared some life lessons. I told him it felt like a "Tuesdays with Morrie" moment, only it wasn't Tuesday and he's far from being the Morrie type; he's in much better shape than Hector and me.

For thirty minutes before we reconnected, I kept looking at every old man that walked by, even the one with the cane, and kept thinking, nah, that can't be him! When he finally reached me all animated and looking more like a former classmate than a teacher, I realized he hadn't changed a bit. I asked him how he stays so young and he told me he prefers to see the best in people and focuses on the positive things in life. He's generous and adventurous and he appreciates art, walks and exercises daily, and enjoys what each day has to offer.

Oh, but the high school stories he told us...if he wrote a book, he'd be in trouble. lol

We spent almost three hours together drinking coffee, reminiscing and catching up. It was a magical morning. We even met a woman and her dog who jumped into one of our pics...not a photo bomber, per se, but close enough.

Lincoln Road on Miami Beach...there's never a dull moment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ojos de Santa Lucia (Eyes of St. Lucy)

This is my version of the Lucy I remember with a little charm added here and there...and yes, that's an azabache on her necklace; after all she was a Cuban lover and we Cubans love our amulets.

The ALF is closing in less than two weeks and I'm taking an Accounting course to add to my resumé. I've also been working on commissioned portraits. Here's my latest, Doug (aka DUg) Pinnick, bass guitarist/singer/songwriter for the band, King's X.

Sometime this week I plan to meet with my favorite high school teacher who I haven't seen in over 30 years. He contacted me through Facebook to let me know he was in Miami and I can't let him go back to NY without at least having a cafecito with him on Lincoln Road. I'll tell you all about it in my next post.

Ciao y un abrazo fuerte, Ily xo